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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

San Francisco to Sell Fiber-Optic Access

Posted By on Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 12:25 PM

click to enlarge There's gold in them there cables.
  • There's gold in them there cables.

San Francisco hopes to raise as much as $1.8 million annually by leasing out its surplus fiber-optic cable capacity, a new report says.

San Francisco has operated its own internal communications system for more than a century. That network is now connected via more than 110 miles of city-owned fiber-optic cable. Leasing surplus, "dark," or yet-to-be-hooked-up capacity would generate money while giving local businesses better and cheaper options for broadband access, according to the report.

And the city claims that prospective clients are already banging on the door.

The City has received requests from avariety of institutions for dark fiber, including KQED, the Independent Television Services (ITVS), The Warfield entertainment venue, and the Chronicle Building.
When the city's Department of Technology installs fiber-optic cable in trenches, workers typically lay 312 strands. But city departments currently only use 12 strands, which means there is plenty to go around. The proposal recommends leasing the excess for as much as $200 per mile on a monthly basis.

Aside from cheaper broadband access and more money for the city, a fiber-optic leasing program might allow city officials to give indirect subsidies to some businesses.

The availability of dark fiber in economic rehabilitation zones, such as the Central Market Street and Tenderloin area, that the city has identified for economic development incentives could provide another inducement for bandwidth-intensive industries to stay or locate to these areas. The city could offer a standard service package in a restricted area by conducting advance research on the cost of providing service and working with the Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development on marketing the service to potential and existing occupants.

The Department of Technology has requested approval to begin leasing cable to UCSF as a test. Afterward, city officials will issue a "request for interest" to see whether there really is demand for the service.

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Matt Smith

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